Last updated in March 2015
Germany established diplomatic relations with Latvia on 28 August 1991, soon after the country regained its independence on 21 August 1991.
Bilateral relations are close and friendly. Germany has supported Latvia on its way to joining the European Union and establishing Euro-Atlantic ties and has helped the country to reform its economy, administration and judiciary.
Latvia’s relations with Germany have taken on a new quality through the country’s accession to the EU and NATO in April and May 2004, respectively. Latvia has also been a member of the Schengen area since 2008.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Latvia in August 2014. Federal President Gauck had previously paid a visit in summer 2013. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Latvia as part of his trip to the three Baltic countries in March 2014, and again in February 2015. In addition, visits by other ministers during Latvia’s EU Council Presidency have helped to intensify political dialogue between the two countries.
Germany remains one of Latvia’s principal trading partners. In 2013, Germany accounted for 12 per cent of Latvia’s total imports, putting Germany in second place among the country’s suppliers. Nearly seven per cent of the country’s total exports went to Germany, which thus ranked fourth among buyers of Latvian goods. Germany is also among the leading direct investors in Latvia. Major investors include E.ON Ruhrgas AG, HVB Bank (now UniCredit), Ergo International AG (Insurances), Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft and Glasseiden Oschatz GmbH.
Some 1,000 companies with German capital interest are active in Latvia, mainly in the metal processing, service and trade sectors. The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offers German business a direct contact partner in Riga. The Chamber also conducts regular seminars on various market economy topics.
Bilateral agreements have been concluded on the protection and promotion of investments (April 1993), air, sea and road transport (April 1993) and double taxation (February 1997).
In the past, a number of German-Latvian projects have helped integrate Latvian partners into European consulting networks. Employees’ and employers’ organisations have supported their Latvian partners with advisory services (employers’ association), seminars and further-training measures (trade unions). The most committed partners in Germany include the Diakonisches Werk of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the German Red Cross, the Workers’ Samaritan Federation and the Order of St John. Germany is a priority partner of Latvia in vocational training and a German expert on the dual vocational training model is active in Riga.
Cultural relations between Latvia and Germany are very close. For historical reasons, the German language is (still) widely used in the country. There is a lively exchange of cultural workers, scientists, academics, university and school students between the two countries. Latvian choirs, theatre and dance companies, painters, writers and other cultural workers maintain intensive ties with Germany, as do their German counterparts with Latvia. As host of the World Choir Games and as the European Capital of Culture 2014, Riga enjoyed a particularly high international profile in the past year.
An important element in the wide-ranging cultural relations between the two countries are the numerous lively twinning arrangements between German and Latvian towns and municipalities and the partnerships between higher education institutions and schools as well as other cultural and social institutions.